How to prepare for your new website
Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing our Website Preparation Guide. Stay tuned!
Creating your first website, or even redesigning an existing website can be a daunting experience. With so much to think about, owners often find it hard to know where to start.
This guide aims to walk you through the steps to go from a blank canvas to a finished document It sets out everything you will need to start creating your website with confidence.
Whether you choose to partner with Chalet Engine, hire a web developer, or build your own website, this guide will take you step-by-step through the process. It will also help you prepare starting work on your new website.
If at any point during this guide, you come across a question that you’re not sure about or just get bogged down in one section, you can reach out to us through our contact page and we will be happy to help in any way we can.
What we will cover
Creating the design is the easy part in a web design project. The hard part is creating the content to plug into the design. Yet it is the content that is most important and what speaks to the visitor. This is why we always start by identifying the types of guest that we would like to target, then produce the right content that our potential guests can relate to. Finally we wrap this inside a design that fits both the audience and the content.
I’ve broken this process of research, information gathering and creation down into eight steps. Some might take a few minutes to complete, others will take a little time. At the beginning and end of this guide, you will find a form where you can download the worksheet and checklist that will help you work through this guide and keep track of your progress.
Here are the sections that we will cover:-
- Your domain name
- Login details
- Branding & Styling Preferences (coming soon...)
- Social Media Links & Login Details
- Page Content & Images
- Your Booking Process
- Blog Post Content & Images
By the time we have worked through these sections and completed the content in your worksheet, you will be ready to take the next step and launch your new website.
The first thing we want to do is get to know ourselves, our business and our strengths. We also want to identify our ideal guests and see how we can best serve them while also differentiating ourselves from the competition.
If you are already a Chalet Engine client, we may have discussed this on our kick-off call, but it is really worth spending some more time here as everything we do in the follow-up sections is built upon what you discover about yourself and your potential guests. Here are some high-level questions to get you started.
2. Your Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name is extremely important for so many reasons. There are many articles online to help guide you in the right direction and I strongly recommend that you watch Rand Fishkins short video here
When I’m looking for that perfect domain name, I like to start by listing all of my ideas, words and phrases, then try putting them together to create something that works. Thesaurus.com is useful for trying to find alternative words. Once you have a list of potential domain name ideas head over to hover.com to see what is available.
3. Login Details
If you already have your domain and other services set up, it will be useful to pull all of your various login details together in one place. Some key information of relevance might include:-
- Logins for Domain registrars and DNS management
- The login address, username and password for your existing website
- If you have login details for cPanel, FTP or phpMyAdmin
- Login details for email management
- Login details for email marketing and list management websites (for example Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber etc.)
- Logins for listing websites, Tripadvisor etc.
- Logins for Google search Console and Google Analytics
Wait a minute, doesn’t marketing come after the website is launched? Well, mostly I would agree that the bulk of your marketing plan will spring into action after launch, but when it comes to creating a website, we like to begin with the end in mind.
Many websites are launched with the notion of ‘Build it and they will come’. Sadly, this doesn’t work on the web. You can have the best business and website in the world, but if you don't have a plan for how you are going to market it, you will struggle to drive visitors to your website and make bookings.
At Chalet Engine, we follow the idea of a hub and spoke model. At the centre is the your website (the hub). Surrounding it are all of the channels that promote your business, but their primary purpose is always to bring those visitors back to your website. These channels can include things like social media, listing websites, SEO, advertising, email marketing etc.
Why place your website at the centre? The reason we do this is because this is the one asset that you own and control. Channels such as social media networks and listing sites rise and fall in popularity over time. Many of the original social networks have even disappeared. Remember Myspace, Friendster or Bebo?
Building a business that focuses around a Facebook page, or an AirBnB or Homeaway listing is like building a house on someone else's land. They own your listing and your content. They can and will change the rules over time. Some of the biggest names have already introduced new fees, actively removed references to personal websites and discourage use of brand names to make it difficult for owners to attract bookings outside of their platform.